Learning More about Women's Health

The Futurist, September-October 2004 | Go to article overview
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Learning More about Women's Health


More than 10,000 U.S. women are expected to enroll in a registry program designed to help counteract the underrepresentation of women in clinical trials of new drugs and medical treatments. For many years, such trials didn't include women because it was assumed that, if a treatment worked for men, it would work in the same way for women. Only in the last 10 years have scientists begun to uncover significant biological and psychological differences between the sexes that affect their responses to treatments.

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"Some drugs or therapies may not be as effective in women as they are in men," says C. Noel Bairey Merz, who is directing the registry for the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Many common health conditions experienced by both women and men are being managed by treatments that were developed and tested mostly in men, says Merz. Current data shows, however, that heart disease kills 50,000 more women than men each year, women smokers are more likely to develop lung cancer, and three out of four people suffering from diseases like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus are female.

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